Texas Tech’s surprisingly strong start to the season has finally hit a snag.
The No. 23 Red Raiders look to bounce back from their first loss of the season while trying for their first victory against visiting Stanford on Tuesday night.
Three wins shy of matching the school record for consecutive victories to open a season, Texas Tech (9-1) couldn’t overcome a poor-shooting first half and lost 85-83 at Wichita State on Saturday.
The defeat was the first setback for a Red Raiders’ program that’s off to a promising start after going 14-19 in 2008-09.
“From a player’s standpoint, it’s great, especially after having a down year last year,” coach Pat Knight said of his team’s hot start. “It just kind of gives kids confidence.”
Knight hopes his squad has the confidence necessary to bounce back in a contest that could be as difficult as their last.
Though Texas Tech tries for a ninth consecutive home victory, it’s 0-3 all-time against Stanford (5-5), which looks to avoid a third straight loss. The Red Raiders are about to conclude a competitive stretch that included a 99-92 overtime win over then-No. 12 Washington and an 80-70 victory at TCU before falling to the Shockers.
In order for the Red Raiders to bounce back, however, they’ll likely have to put forth a more complete effort than they did at Wichita.
John Roberson scored a team-high 24 points for Texas Tech, which went 21 of 30 from the field and scored 62 points in the second half after shooting 8 for 31 and trailing by 14 at halftime.
“I don’t know if we were tight, rusty or what, but we just couldn’t hit a bucket in the first half,” Knight said. “We were just more aggressive in the second half.”
Roberson continues to be aggressive, averaging a team-leading 14.6 points on the season and 23.3 on 54.1-percent shooting in his last three games. The junior guard, though, has 15 total points in two games against Stanford.
He was held to six, while Mike Singletary (14.1 ppg) had a team-high 13 in the Red Raiders’ 111-66 loss at Stanford on Dec. 28.
Landry Fields had 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in that contest for the Cardinal. The 6-foot-7 senior swingman, averaging 23.0 points with 8.8 rebounds this season, had 24 and nine boards in a 70-62 loss at Northwestern on Saturday.
Inconsistency has plagued coach Johnny Dawkins’ squad, which has only one significant victory - 57-52 over Virginia on Nov. 24. Stanford has losses to San Diego, Oral Roberts, Kentucky and Oklahoma State and is 0-2 in true road games this season.
Stanford, which had a pair of losing streaks of three games or more while going 20-14 last season, will likely need to take care of the ball if it plans to pull the upset. The Cardinal committed a season-high 18 turnovers against Northwestern after averaging 11.3 per contest coming into that game.